|68231 - Goshawk|
Hiking the trails of Denali National Park proved to be a small adventure, and I had time to explore three different trails during my visit. Rock Creek is a 2.5 mile trail that meanders through forests of spruce and aspen trees and was colored with many varieties of wildflowers and grasses, as well as mostly yellow shades of tundra. Walking on tundra is like walking on 6-inch thick sponge, and it's amazing how it springs back to its original position after each footstep. The stuff would probably make a comfortable place to drop a sleeping bag to camp for the night.
The first part of the trail I only saw plants, grasses and flowers, and no wildlife at all. I will show some photos of the wildflowers later in a separate post. About 45 minutes into my hike I walked up on a goshawk that had killed a snowshoe hare and was having lunch. The biggest surprise was that he allowed me to approach him very closely and sit on the tundra and take photos for about 20 minutes.
|68243 - Goshawk|
|68116 - - Goshawk|
|67130 - Horseshoe Lake|
|7145 - Beaver|
|67137 - Horseshoe Lake|
There is a hike at Savage River at mile post 15 near the ranger station that afforded us quite a few photo opps in just a short while. We saw an arctic ground squirrel, a full family of ptarmigans including a male and female and about 15 chicks, plus a coyote that tried his best to make a meal of the ptarmigan chicks or mew gull chicks that were in the same area.
|68377 - Arctic Ground Squirrel|
|68673 - Male Ptarmigan|
|68861 - Mew Gull|
|68626 - Ptarmigan Chick|
|68867 - Male Ptarmigan hiding in flowers |
When a coyote approaches, you can usually tell where he is because the nesting birds in the area will dive bomb the coyote in attempt to keep him away from their nests and chicks. We witnessed this and it was fascinating to watch. The coyote was stalking the chicks directly in front of us across the creek while the ptarmigans were running to the left with their chicks to hide them from the coyote. Then the mew gulls were flying in from left to right and attacking the coyote to try and scare him off. They finally succeeded and the coyote retreated across the stream and up into the thick brush on the mountainside across the creek. We laughed as some startled hikers on the other side of the creek saw the coyote suddenly pop out of nowhere and pass right in front of them on his way up the mountainside. Below are photos of all the players in the scenario I described above:
|68387 - Mew Gull Attacking Coyote|
|68800 - Female Ptarmigan with chicks|